White House Adviser on Climate Plan: ‘We Think the Public Is with Us’

Rick Duke, deputy director for climate policy at the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change, assured states that they would have “lots of latitude” when implementing President Obama’s clean energy plan.


“What we’re seeing is that poll after poll shows that Americans support climate action; they support strong actions on climate and measures like historic fuel economy standards delivered during the first term, appliance efficiency standards, doubling renewable electricity during the first term and a whole suite of other measures that are in motion under the climate action plan are cutting energy waste, they’re saving consumers money and delivering both carbon pollution reduction and public health benefits,” Duke said at the World Resources Institute’s Delivering on the U.S. Climate Commitment discussion.

“So our intention is to continue acting and continue to deliver what we promised under the climate action plan and hit our targets accordingly and we think the public is with us,” he added.

Addressing potential legal challenges to the White House’s climate initiatives, Duke said the Environmental Protection Agency has had a “multi-decade track record of success” in public health projects, like cutting particulate matter.

“80 percent reductions in sulfur dioxide over a period of decades and yes, there was litigation and there was a challenge to what EPA was doing over that period but ultimately they have been successful and the economy has continued to expand robustly and we’ve delivered those public health benefits,” he said. “We think we’ll see similar success going forward on key elements of the climate action plan across the board.”


Obama’s climate action proposal includes a “clean power plan” for states, which the EPA described as the “first-ever carbon pollution standards for existing power plants that will protect the health of our children and put our nation on the path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030.”

Duke said the White House sees “extraordinary opportunities for rapid ongoing job growth in the renewable sector, the energy efficiency sector and throughout the low carbon solutions set” as states move to implement the clean power plan.

According to Duke, each state will be able to decide how they want to implement the clean power plan once it is finalized.

“Many states will want to focus intensively on renewables, others will want to focus on accommodation of renewables and nuclear and other technologies and so we’ll see lots of jobs come with that transformation in each state and ongoing job creation through the suite of policies that are already in place consistent with the climate action plan,” he said.

Some states like Wisconsin have indicated they will not be able to meet the standards set in the proposed rule.

Duke said the White House is confident the EPA is going to finalize a “strong” and “legally robust” rule that is appealing for states to adopt.


“Every state will have latitude to design a program that fits their conditions and their priorities and to deliver the standards that are set for their state by the EPA,” Duke said. “So we’re confident that once the rule is finalized this summer, there will be strong interest across states in getting moving on accelerating the momentum that’s already out there in the energy sector, as some have already noted, and they will have lots of latitude to do that in a way that works for their circumstances.”


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